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Regulators Ban Momís Banana Bread
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Regulators Ban Momís Banana Bread

  #1 (permalink)
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Regulators Ban Momís Banana Bread

hmmm... any relationship to financial markets...

Regulators Ban Momís Banana Bread

Posted: 02 Mar 2010 04:57 AM PST
by Chidem Kurdas

Last week, New York Cityís Panel for Educational Policy approved a new rule for school bake sales. (Pop-Tarts O.K. as Bake-Sale Rules Are Set for New York Schools - NYTimes.com ) Home-made treats are no-no, but pre-approved packaged products, the ones that are also in school vending machines, are fine.

The bake sale ban is supposed to reduce childhood obesity. An education bureaucrat explained that homemade goods canít be allowed because itís impossible to know their portion size and content. (No Brownies at Bake Sales, but Doritos May Be O.K. - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com) You may add raisins to your banana bread and slice it thin, while I add walnuts and cut it thick.

Hence banana bread, cupcakes and anything else baked at home have been banished; but kids are free to gorge on Kelloggís Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, which come in portion-controlled packages and have known ingredientsóin fact a long list of ingredients from high fructose corn syrup to yellow dye #6.

This is a vivid little example of how regulation in general functions and the impact it has in many areas of social life.

One, regulators are almost always influenced by the industry involved and work to its advantageó the NYC schoolsí chosen vending operator plans to sell ďfund-raising kitsĒ of packaged products.

Two, the cost risesópackaged products cost significantly more than home-made goods. This means you will need more capital to hold a bake sale. Factoring in the greater expense, sales canít raise as much money and are therefore less worthwhile.

Three, the intervention weakens and often destroys some part of civil society Ė in this case, the venerable American institution of bake sales Ė by substituting government control for spontaneous activity.

Four, the regulation likely fails to achieve its stated goal. Evidence is mixed about the effect of portion-controlled food packages. They help limit your consumption only if you stop at one pack. In a study from Arizona State University, 100-calorie snack packs actually boosted eating by one groupópeople with diet issues. ( 100-calorie snacks: do they help or hinder portion control? - CTV News) More of them finished off M&Mís in little packs than the equivalent amount in a big package.

If you consider that in recent decades home cooking has become less prevalent as children have become heavier, one would not logically conclude that momís cookies are the culprit. Getting rid of the cookies is therefore unlikely to reverse the trend.

Five, the intrusion invariably has bad side effects, which in this case includes making students feel that being at school is like being incarcerated in a maximum-security prison where you have to eat whatever youíre givenóan experience probably not conducive to warm feelings toward the school.

But bureaucrats invariably see their impositions on other people as very reasonable. The home baking prohibition is presented as a compromise, the alternative to an earlier total ban on fund-raising food sales, and an exception has been granted for a Parent-Teacher Association event, presumably to make the policy palatable.

When interventions fail and the problem worsens, the standard response is to add more regulation. Next step down the slippery slope, maybe a new rule on what children are allowed to eat at home. (Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes ThinkMarkets) Banish all foods other than regulation-size packages of chemical-laced pellets and institute a refrigerator police.

ďBe who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.Ē - Dr. Seuss
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We weren't allowed to bring cupcakes to school for my daughter's birthday. I am pretty sure they aren't allowed to bring anything baked. I guess that rule had been around for a while. I heard the Health Department thought it could be dangerous not knowing how the goods were made. At least with pre-packaged goods you can rest assured... I guess. Everyone brought tons of candy on Valentine's Day, though. It's really too bad, so many of these grassroots type local community efforts are getting snuffed for silly stuff like this. Are bake sales allowed in the Bahamas?

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